Lethal Heritage: Blood of Kerensky by Michael A. Stachpole
In a time when humanity lives among the stars and planets of distant universes and battles are fought using giant machines called BattleMechs, a war unlike any before is about to begin. Divided by hundreds of years of strife, the Successor States have been in constant conflict among themselves, but a new enemy has arrived that will challenge everything they know about warfare. The Clans strike with deadly force, throwing the separate nations into total turmoil. With their almost inhuman physical capabilities, unparalleled technology, nearly indestructible machines, and relentless love for battle, the Clans threaten to destroy anything that stands between them and victory. Now, the Successor States must either find a way to work through their political differences or face complete annihilation. The future of humanity may very well rest on the shoulders of a few special soldiers who must not only battle to save their homes, but also fight to prove themselves as capable MechWarriors.
Lethal Heritage is a rough and tough story set primarily in the years 3049 and 3050, a time when humanity resides on distant planets and moves between them using large JumpShips capable of space travel. There is no mention of Earth and, as such, the reader is never quite certain if the book follows our real-world timeline or creates a new one. This is a great perk for readers who enjoy complete removal from realism, even though there are definitely some technological elements that will be familiar.
While it starts off slow at first, taking time to carefully introduce each of the many characters responding to the deadly space invasion, the pace picks up about one-third of the way through and remains consistent from there. For the most part, the characters are alluring, especially newly graduated Victor Davion, heir to the Federation Commonwealth, and Kia Allard, a brilliant, yet self-conscious, strategist and pilot. Kell Hound mercenary Phelan Kell, however, definitely warrants the most attention, as his internal monologue provides great entertainment and his experiences shed light into the inner workings of the Clan. The weakest storyline follows Tai-i Shin Yodama, a member of the Draconis Combine, but the information provided from his perspective does ultimately add to the overall plot. Each character possesses his or her own strengths and weaknesses and the variety provides a little something for every reader.
Stackpole’s writing style is solid, demonstrating a consistent voice while also integrating elements geared to match each of the individual characters. There are a few sections that seem “staged,” but the flow of thought and dialogue is relatively natural for the majority of the novel. The content can sometimes seem dense, but that is due in large part to the fact that there is a significant amount of information to process through. For example, keeping track of the varying leadership factions and less-essential characters can be difficult. On the flip side, the book is certainly not lacking in depth and any reader should be satisfied with its thoroughness of detail. Stackpole is also successful in keeping the techno-speak believably complex, but still accessible to the general reader.
Overall, Lethal Heritage may take some time to work through, but it is a definite must-read for science fiction fans – especially those who enjoy giant robots!
Plot – 4/5
Setting – 4.5/5
Characters – 4/5
Creativity – 4.5/5
Writing – 4/5
Overall – 4/5